Daniel Buren with illy at Monumenta 2012

Paris, April 2012.  Daniel Buren is the protagonist of the fifth edition of Monumenta, scheduled in Paris from May 10 to June 21, with the “Excentrique(s) work in situ”, at Gran Palais.

illy has collaborated as partner with the Centre National des Arts Plastiques.  The coffee area in the main aisle has been planned as an integral part of this project, and on this occasion the French artist has designed a new illy Art Collection. illy has collaborated as well to make "Les Ecrits, 1965-2011" published  by Flammarion: it is a collection of essays and studies by Daniel Buren, written  all along his fifty years of activity.

The illy Art Collection designed by Daniel Buren for Monumenta 2012 – four espresso cups in limited edition – draws on a visual pattern chosen by the artist in 1965, which later on became his distinctive mark: alternating white and colored stripes (8,7 centimeters wide), inspired to the pattern of a very common fabric at that time, especially to manufacture awnings, deckchairs, mattresses, and pillows. The artist uses  this “outil visuel” in order to define once again the space and let the eyes establish a new relationship both with the space and with the objects.

The four black espresso cups are on saucers of growing diameters. Little by little - as a tale that reveals itself - the black stripe in the middle leaves space to white and then to green, yellow, orange, and blue, all colors that on the hidden side of the saucer redesign the art work and the place to which it belongs.

illy and Buren have been partners for the second time: they had already met in 2004, on the occasion of another big project planned for the premises of Palais de Tokyo. At that time the artist applied his conceptual mark to the espresso cup.


Buren at Gran Palais

“Enthusiastic about the transparent and bright dome, and at the same time aware of the great challenges of the wonderful setting”: for the main aisle of Gran Palais Daniel Buren has thought of an art work that has the purpose of letting visitors experience the structure in a new perspective. Visitors actively participate to the creation of the new space and of the very art work, experiencing through the lens of the outil visuel the hidden dimensions of space, its invisible potential, its past, and its present.

The result is a dimension suspended in space and colours, where all feelings are enhanced and all senses involved.


Daniel Buren

Born in 1938 in the outskirts of Paris, Daniel Buren in 1960 obtained the diploma at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Métiers d’Art of Paris. In 1965 he begins to adopt the stripe of 8,7 centimeters, the characteristic mark of his whole production, drawn from an awning fabric very common in France and elsewhere. In 1966 he is one of the founders of the minimalist conceptual group Buren, Mosset, Parmentier, and Toroni. He has coupled architecture and painting since his first collective international exhibition “Prospect 68” in Düsseldorf, and his solo art exhibition at the Apollinaire Gallery of Milan in 1968: he always works in situ. In 1986 he represented France at the Biennial Exhibition of Venice and he was awarded the “Leone d’oro” for the best pavilion. His architectural works led him to work on different materials and directly on the structures upon which he intervenes. His art works, always of huge dimensions, are site-specific, and later on are always taken apart. Their existence is therefore documented only by films and photographs made by Buren himself. These documents are called “photo-souvenirs” and are neither shown nor sold, but only published in books and catalogues. All “photo-souvenirs”, as they are called and their names suggest, cannot replace the real art work. Daniel Buren has performed all over the world and he says to belong and to be a citizen of the place where he is working at any given moment.

illy, patron in Paris

Some of the art projects that have marked illy’s journey in the world of contemporary art were born in Paris. Before the project with Daniel Buren in 2004, the Palais de Tokyo had been the location chosen also for Louise Bourgeois’ exhibitions  “Le jour, la nuit, le jour”- on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of illy Art Collections in 2002 – and for “Nightshift” by Tobias Rehberger. In 2004 Paris has hosted the photo exhibition of Sebastiao Salgado on India, within the project “In Principio”, a journey among peoples, landscapes, and harmonious relationships with the Earth. A photographic journey at the roots of the culture of coffee.

In 2008 Jan Fabre has created 1000 pieces of the illy Art Collection “Art kept me out of jail (and out of museums)” on the occasion of a performance with the same name at the Louvre. But the real beginning of the activity of art support by illy in the capital of France dates back to 1994, with the participation at Marino Marini’s exhibition “Place Vendome”.


illy, illy Art Collection, and contemporary art

illy was led to open a preferential communication channel with the world of contemporary art by its philosophy based on a wide-ranging interpretation of the “culture of coffee” concept. What we drink every morning to wake us up becomes during the day  something different, the quintessence of a rite of pure pleasure. That same coffee that stirs our senses, becomes an opportunity to meet, to talk, and to inspire our minds. Its value is therefore physiological, aesthetic, social, and intellectual. The company of Trieste with its illy Art Collections has pursued its philosophy and created an object that perfectly sums up and reinterprets the culture of coffee. So, whoever tastes an illy espresso in an illy Art Collection cup with one simple act  connects the aroma and the taste of a blend to a full aesthetic, visual and tactile experience, in touch with contemporary art.

The espresso cup designed by artists (as well as coffee cans), enriched by graphic or conceptual signs, is therefore the place where the different languages of the illy universe meet and blend: the science of espresso and the culture of coffee. So far more than 70 artists have been involved in this project in the past 20 years.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Marina Abramovic, Jeff Koons, Bob Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Julian Schnabel are among the great Maestros who have contributed to this project. In 1996 Rosenquist had designed the logo of the company, and ten years later he  has decorated a limited edition of coffee cans with his “Coffee Flavours Ideas” icon.

As a natural result of this approach, illy has decided to be an active contributor, to  spread contemporary art, to support some of the most important exhibitions at international level and to work alongside famous and emerging artists at the conception of new projects.

In  1997 and in the editions of 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 illy has been partner in Italy of the Biennial of Visual Arts of Venice. It is also present at the most important exhibitions and the most influential institutions of international art, such as Armory Show (New York), Frieze (London), Arco (Madrid), Artissima (Turin), Art Forum (Berlin), SP-Arte (San Paolo), and Art Rotterdam (Rotterdam).



Based in Trieste, Italy, illycaffé produces and markets a unique blend of espresso coffee under a single brand leader in quality. Over 6 million cups of illy espresso coffee are enjoyed every day. illy is sold in over 140 countries around the world and is available in more than 50,000 of the best restaurants and coffee bars. espressamente illy, the chain of franchised Italian-style coffee bars is now present in 30 countries and comprises more than 230 outlets. With the aim of spreading the coffee culture, illy has founded the Università del caffè, the centre of excellence offering theoretical and practical training on every aspect of coffee for coffee growers, coffee shops staff and enthusiasts. On a global level illycaffè employs 796 people and has a consolidated turnover of €305 million. (2010 results)



For more info:

Anna Adriani/Christine Pascolo, illycaffè, Tel. 040/389.0111